Using a Qualitative Interpretive Approach in Educational Technology Implementation: A Personal Experience From a Developing Country University

Using a Qualitative Interpretive Approach in Educational Technology Implementation: A Personal Experience From a Developing Country University

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2610-1.ch015
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This chapter presents some methodological issues raised in the research process of an interpretive researcher in a maiden doctoral programme in a developing country. The chapter draws on a doctoral research experience which employed an interpretive case study approach as the methodology and a combined lens of activity and agency theories as to the theoretical foundation. The research relied on a single case study in a developing country context. The chapter offers an overview of some practicalities of carrying out a single case study research using an interpretive philosophy by presenting the different viewpoints using semi-structured interviews, documents and participant observation, and analysing the data through hermeneutics. The chapter presents some challenges and how interpretive research methods can be used as a clear methodological strategy, especially in an environment where many researchers are not familiar with this research approach. This reflective account provides lessons for others who wish to go through an interpretive process of researching an information systems phenomenon.
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The nature of work and the workplace are rapidly changing, especially in our increasingly connected digital world, making some jobs and places of work obsolete. Today, work and the workplace are no longer tied to fixed locations. This change has led to some flexibility in terms of where, how and when people work (Lee, 2015). The three pillars have a co-shaping relationship and drive how work is conducted in recent times.

The Higher Education Institution (HEI) workplace is no exception to this change. HEIs are characterised by three main activities in their work environment: teaching, research, and administration. A work environment is a space in which work is performed (Bødker & Christiansen, 2002) and includes the surrounding conditions such as the physical office space or equipment and work processes. Over the years, work has been performed in work environments characterised by a physical office and physical workflows with employees sharing a common workspace and are not necessarily collaborating using communication and collaboration tools such as email and video conferencing (Schweitzer & Duxbury, 2010). Traditionally, teaching and administration in HEIs have been conducted in physically located settings. Teaching has been carried out in classrooms and offices with the use of physical tools such as chalk, marker, or chalkboard whilst administration has been conducted with physical tools such as office cabinets, paper-based mail and physical workflows with employees having to travel to the workplace.

Though globalisation and information technology have been key trends shaping this changing nature of the work environment, Information Systems (IS) research on HEIs systems over the years has focused more on e-learning and the virtual learning environment (VLE). As a result, less research attention has been given to virtualisation of work environment within HEIs. It is thus important that IS research on higher education information systems pays attention not only to the learning environment but also to the work environment since the work environment offers the necessary support for learning. Also, In recent years, the requirements of HEIs have changed because of the growing number of students, the data generated from their operations, and the need for information integration (Magal & Word, 2011; Pollock & Williams, 2008). As a result, HEIs in developing countries are migrating their physical work processes to the virtual

To address these, I embarked on a PhD journey to understand the contextual issues that could shape a developing country HEI’s engagement of an external consultant to virtualise its work environments. In 2013, I started a PhD in Information Systems (IS) under the supervision of an interpretive researcher at the University of Ghana as one of the only two students to have started a PhD in IS in a Ghanaian University. My PhD explored the enablers and constraints that developing countries Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) could encounter in their attempt to migrate their physical work environments to a virtual work environment using an external consultant.

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